tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 5, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EST
engel takes a daring trip to show us where some of that gold is coming from and who's doing the mining. plus, making a difference for a lot of folks who need jobs. for a lot of folks who need jobs. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. no matter how electronic and portable we may consider this current age in america, this time of year, mailboxes across this country are stuffed full of christmas cards and catalogs and it's all the job of the u.s. postal service to get it all there. make no mistake, it is remarkable to this day that a letter can go across town in one day or travel vast distances just a day later, just for the price of a stamp. but today the u.s. postal service made it clear reality is about to take a bite. they've got to find $20 billion in operating costs. that means slowing everything down. that means everything that comes by mail.
it's where we begin tonight with nbc's tom costello -- where else? at the post office. tom, good evening. >> reporter: yeah, brian. good evening to you. the postal service is cash-strapped. it's lost a third of its first class volume. it's bloated, so it's cutting costs. and as you said, that means slowing things down starting in the spring. the folks at the post office hate the term "snail mail," but first class mail is about to get more expensive and slower. >> mail that is dropped in a blue collection box will no longer receive overnight service standard. >> reporter: that means what now takes one day to deliver could take two come spring. and the letter that used to get there overnight will likely take two days. meanwhile, newspapers and magazines could take several extra days. at a minimum, everything from movie dvds, to prescription medications, bills, mortgage payments, you name it, will take at least a day longer to process. >> it would affect my schedule and make sure that i do things
earlier. >> the post office is not as important, i guess, as it used to be just because of the age we live in of the internet. >> in the grand scheme of things a day is not a big deal. if it keeps the post office afloat, keeps us having a post office, i can live with that. >> reporter: blame e-mail and the internet. in ten years first class mail volume has dropped 29%. it's forecast to drop another 50% by 2020 and every 1% drop equals $300 million in revenue. now on the verge of bankruptcy it's raising the cost of a first class stamp by a penny starting in january. it wants to close 3,700 post offices. it plans to close half the nation's mail processing centers while it cuts 28,000 jobs and asks congress for permission to cancel saturday delivery. >> we are looking for $20 billion. that gets us back in good financial state, gets our finances good and stable going forward. >> reporter: the question, by making snail mail slower, does that push the post office closer to being obsolete?
it is important to remember that we still pay 45 cents to mail a letter in maine and it will arrive in san diego three days later. clearly we still need the post office but maybe not quite as much. brian? >> tom costello in d.c. for us tonight. tom, thanks. now we turn to politics. the presidential campaign trail and the new republican frontrunner who was pretty much left for dead politically a few months back. this is the new rise of the former speaker named newt. our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd has our report. >> reporter: the new republican frontrunner, newt gingrich in new york city today. >> i have come to new york for two different reasons today. one is to make the case that if i do become the nominee we are going to compete in all 50 states. >> reporter: the second reason, to pay a visit to businessman donald trump. >> donald trump is a great showman and also a great businessman. if we are trying to create jobs
one of the differences between my party and the other party is we actually go to people who know how to create jobs. >> reporter: with herman cain's decision to drop out for now. >> i am suspending my presidential campaign. >> reporter: gingrich is the latest not mitt romney to serve. the new nbc news marist poll shows gingrich with a substantial lead in iowa and he's a strong second in new hampshire, romney's backyard. gingrich is benefitting in part because large majorities of republicans believe romney is a moderate, not a conservative. the new frontrunner's first tv ad drew the attention of the obama campaign today. >> because working together, i know we can rebuild america. >> you're talking about the godfather of gridlock here. the guy who decades ago really invented the tactics that have become commonplace in washington. >> welcome to iowa. >> good to be here. >> reporter: a month away from the iowa caucuses the republican race is far from settled. in trump's plan to moderate a republican debate is making some main stream republicans uncomfortable.
>> i think the republican national chairman ought to step in and say we strongly discourage every candidate from appearing in a debate moderated by someone who may be a candidate. >> karl rove gave us george bush and george bush crashed and burned. because of that we have obama. >> reporter: like other frontrunners this year, gingrich has problems in his own party, even with fellow conservatives like tom coburn who gingrich helped sweep into congress in 1994. >> there are all types of leaders. leaders that instill confidence, leaders that are abrupt and brisk. leaders with one standard for emselves. standard for ding and >> reporter: you know, brian, an interesting nugget on that famous class of 1994 that newt gingrich swept into congress. so far not a single member of that class has yet to endorse gingrich for president. a few have endorsed other candidates.
>> interesting to see how it collides with the money and organization of the romney campaign. chuck todd in our washington newsroom tonight. chuck, we'll stay at it. thanks. president obama for his part threw down with congressional republicans today over extending the payroll tax cut for another year. nbc's kristen welker with us tonight was there for it. kristen, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, brian. in what has become a familiar refrain, president obama railed against congress for its inaction and ratcheted up the pressure on republicans to pass an extension of the payroll tax cuts and the unemployment insurance benefits, both set to expire at the end of the year. if the payroll tax cuts do expire, the average american family making about $50,000 every year would wind up paying about $1,000 more in taxes. today, president obama warned if congress doesn't act, the economy could suffer. >> my message to congress is this. keep your word to the american people. don't raise taxes on them right now.
now is not the time to slam on the brakes. now is the time to step on the gas. now is the time to keep growing the economy, to keep creating jobs, to keep giving working americans the boost that they need. >> reporter: now, democrats and republicans agree that they want to extend the payroll tax cuts but they disagree about how to pay for it. democrats have proposed increasing taxes on the wealthiest americans, those making about $1 million or more. while republicans argued that it could hurt small business owners and add to the deficit. president obama will continue his push in a speech on the economy tomorrow that he will deliver in the republican stronghold of kansas. brian? >> kristen welker on the north lawn of the white house. thanks. big potential p.r. trouble across town at the faa. the head of the organization, randy babbitt, is on leave tonight after being arrested and charged with drunk driving in suburban virginia saturday night. he was a pilot for eastern
airlines for more than 25 years. he's been running the faa since '09. there is sensitivity because of the crackdown on drunk pilots and because faa is part of transportation where the anti-drunk driving crackdown has been going on for decades. police said he was driving on the wrong side of the road when he was pulled over. an elderly new york woman said she is planning to sue the tsa after what she said was a humiliating strip search. le nn l e lenore zimmerman who is 85 and infirm was at jfk headed to ft. lauderdale. she asked to be patted down after she refused to go through the full body scanner because she has a defibrillator. she said that led to a fiasco in a private search room. zimmerman told reporters if they stop 85-year-old ladies because they think you might be a terrorist, this country is in big trouble. now to concerns over one of america's secret drones,
so-called black operations that crashed in iran and whether it is giving the iranians highly sensitive information about top secret intelligence missions. the u.s. denies iranian claims they shot down the drone, but that's just the start. nbc's jim miklaszewski on duty for us tonight at the pentagon with more exclusive details tonight. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. nbc news learned when that unarmed, unmanned american drone crashed in iran last thursday it was on a mission for the cia, but the exact nature of the mission is still cloaked in secrecy and it's still unclear whether the drone was operating in iran or afghanistan. u.s. officials tell nbc news that cia operators on the ground were flying the drone when it suddenly veered out of control and headed deep into iran. now, according to u.s. officials the drone eventually ran out of fuel and crashed in iran's remote mountains. but this is not just any drone.
american officials confirm this is a super secret stealth drone called an rq-170 which looks more like a flying wing than any airplane. it's the same kind of drone that circled over that compound in pakistan when navy seals took out osama bin laden. now, according to u.s. officials, the iranians have recovered that wreckage and the concern here is that they will use those high tech cameras and sensors to try to develop that technology for their own. sources tell us american military forces were considering a mission into iran to try to retrieve those secrets, but the iranians got there first. tonight, brian, the cia has no comment. >> all right, jim miklaszewski at the pentagon tonight. jim, thanks. news tonight from russia. there were big protests in moscow and st. petersburg, the biggest in years after parliamentary election results over the weekend, thousands in
the streets accusing the party of vladimir putin, who wants to be president again, of rigging the election to keep a hold on power. there were widespread reports of ballot box stuffing. today, western election monitors did report widespread fraud in those russian elections. the santa anas are back at it in southern california. not as bad as last week, but the winds are kicking up once again. today they hit 64 miles an hour in malibu. it's the last thing the area needs after last week's damage and power outages. a lot of it's still being repaired. that story of course has to do with our current earth but we learned today there may be another one out there. astronomers report the discovery of what they are calling an earth-like planet 600 light years away from here. while it is very big it looks like us and they believe it has a temperate climate, perhaps in the 70s all the time. now imagine what we could do with this new place. it could be our chance to start fresh.
a place where the chicago cubs always win, where there is always free parking, productive lawmakers and uninterrupted cell phone service. it's called kepler 22-b. while we can work on the name it doesn't hurt to dream. up next here tonight as "nightly news" continues, important news this evening for any family that has a kid on the field about a new way to understand, maybe prevent, future concussions. and later, a woman who knows what it's like to be jobless making a big difference for thousands of people who are now where she once was. thousands of people who are now where she once was. great fall. ugh, it's my sinus congestion, and it's all your fault. naturally blame the mucus. he's funny. instead of blaming me, try this, advil congestion relief. often the real problem is swelling, not mucus. advil congestion relief reduces swelling due to nasal inflammation. so i can breathe. happily ever after. another story? from him! [ mucus ] advil congestion relief. the right relief for the real problem.
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more from palo alto, california. >> oh, he was crushed. >> reporter: when a stanford receiver got two concussions this season it provided critical information for a study. he's one of 20 players ranked fourth in the nation who wear mouthguards full of electronics to transfer information to computers at the sidelines about the force and direction of every blow to the each player takes during every practice and every game. >> the mouthpiece is measuring the brain's acceleration. >> reporter: physicians say concussions are a serious injury but doubts they can ever be eliminated from the game. >> the important thing to do is technology, technique, regulations to try to reduce the risk. the mouthguard is a measuring device. >> reporter: with the testing device the researchers can show that forces to the helmet are accurately recorded. the idea is to use the
mechanical mouthpiece to find out how much force and what kind causes a concussion. the research is just beginning. the hope is it will lead to better helmet design and other measures. scott anderson, the head athletic trainer says his task now is to get players with concussions off the field. >> we are looking for short-term and long-term memory recall, balance and coordination. >> we're going to get a picture of your brain. >> reporter: many surveys have shown that repeat concussions carry the greatest danger of lasting brain damage. a new study of high school athletes shows that brain changes from a single concussion can last for weeks. experts say the message to players, coaches and parents is whenever in doubt, get the athlete out of the game. robert bazell, nbc news, palo alto. up next here tonight, this is important because of what people are buying this time of year. the dirty, dangerous work of getting gold out of the ground. richard engel's trip to see
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epa must update power plant standards to protect our kids. [ baby coughing ] it's the holiday season and a lot of people are buying gold jewelry this time of year. the commercials show us the joy on christmas morning but they don't show us the work that goes into getting the gold out of the ground. getting at it is dirty and dangerous and in some places children are doing the work. later tonight on "rock center" we are going to air an investigation by richard engel who went to mali in africa to see the underground risks for himself. >> i'm going down. let me check the rope first. >> reporter: the first couple of steps look easy with carved footholds to climb down. but 20 feet down the footholds suddenly stop. >> no more footholds. i'm pushing my weight against
the other side and using the rope a little bit. okay. almost there. i finally made it to the bottom. there are six workers down here with picks chipping into the rock. there are some very, very primitive wooden supports to try to keep this mine apart. aside from the rock, the rest of the is surface is just soft mud and a big concern, at least that i have, is that this mine could just collapse. is there gold in this? [ speaking in a foreign language ] >> reporter: are you sure? there's gold in this? there goes the bag. i hope it doesn't, but i'm very worried that this mine is going to collapse on you. i'm going to get out of here. >> happy to report richard engel is back with us in studio. >> what's important about this, brian, is 12% of the world's gold comes from mines just like
that one that are dug by hand. in mali alone, 20,000 to 40,000 children work in these mines. many of them are also poisoning themselves because they use tremendous amounts of mercury which binds with the gold ore. it leaves mali, goes to the international market, is melted down and becomes anonymous. later tonight we'll discuss where it ends up. >> all right, richard, thanks very much. you can see richard's reporting on the story tonight here in the studio on "rock center" at 10:00 eastern time. right now on our website nbcnightlynews.com. up next, making a difference one job search at a time. hey, where's harriat?
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♪ [ male announcer ] the new united mileageplus explorer card. get it and you're in. time for our report tonight about people who are making a difference. tonight's story comes from a town near boston where lots of good people are losing good jobs in this bad economy. one woman who knows what that feels like has been doing her part to get others back in the game. her story tonight from nbc's anne thompson. >> reporter: in 2011 a style update. >> earth tones are really good colors for you. >> reporter: social media skills. >> do you want them to contact
you. >> reporter: and a boost of self-confidence. >> what we do here is try to help you build that back up. >> reporter: are the pieces used to reignite careers detoured by the recession. >> is losing a job more than just losing a paycheck? >> it's losing your image. losing everything you believe your self-worth. it's losing a lot. >> reporter: this is where they come to get it back. o'neil's one life at a time career center in rockland, massachusetts. since 2008 she says she's helped 5,000 people find work in one of the toughest economies in history. >> i have been out of work about a year. >> i have been out of work for almost two years. >> reporter: o'neil, a medical technician, built and lost a business. >> i know what it's like to feel unemployed and i didn't like it. >> reporter: when she won a fortune in a whistleblower lawsuit, o'neil decided to help those looking for work. >> what i like to do in the first self-esteem class is get to know you. >> reporter: the free service is provided by a staff of 12
offering one on one support not available at state unemployment offices. taping mock interviews. >> i did research. >> reporter: watching them with the sound off to make sure the job seeker's body language matches her words. >> you showed interest. >> reporter: a 20-year veteran of telecomm sales ted learned to use facebook and twitter to stay connected as he looks for a job. >> we're getting through it. but it's tough. it's a battle. it's a struggle. >> reporter: it paid off. this week he starts a new sales job. jen is another success story. >> they were able to help me see things in a different light and have me go down different paths and kind of test my skills and test myself. >> reporter: with a combination of professional advice, moral support and hope. anne thompson, nbc news, rockland, massachusetts. >> that's our broadcast for this monday night. thanks for being with us as we start a new week. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you tonight for "rock center" at 10:00/9:00 central and right back here for "nightly news" tomorrow night. central and right back here for "nightly news" tomorrow night. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com